Tory shadow agriculture spokesman Jim Paice has written to DEFRA secretary Margaret Beckett asking for interim single farm payments if the majority are not going to be complete by the end of April.

“The government are fond of saying nothing has been ruled out but it is time to rule something in,” said Mr Paice.

“If payments for the majority are not going to be completed by the end of April the government must make an interim payment.

“The situation is desperate for farmers and the government must take action to help those in most hardship.”

Mr Paice’s latter also calls for a clear indication of when payments will be completed.

“I accept your reluctance given recent history however it is the uncertainty which is causing the biggest difficulty to farmers.

“If you cannot commit to completion any earlier than the end of the payment window then that should be made clear with the advice that farmers should work on that assumption.”

Meanwhile, Roger Williams MP, the Liberal Democrat’s rural affairs spokesman, has written to the European farm commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel, urging her to implement an EU compensation scheme for English farmers who have not yet received their SFP.

Mr Williams said: “DEFRA and the RPA have failed the farming community on a huge scale, so I have written today to the commissioner asking her to authorise a compensation scheme for English farmers whose payments have been delayed.

“Through no fault of their own, many English farmers have been caused unnecessary and unbearable financial hardship at a time when interest payments are due.

“The crisis we are experiencing is a purely English phenomenon. These farmers are victims, and should not have to pay for the incompetence of others.”